T-Birds Outlast Phantoms in See-Saw Shootout Battle
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (3-4-0-0) survived a third-period charge from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (2-1-1-1) and eventually came away as 4-3 shootout winners on Saturday night inside the PPL Center.
The Thunderbirds picked up where they left off in their 36-shot effort an evening ago by unleashing 10 first period shots at veteran netminder J-F Berube, but the goalie made every stop.
At the other end, Philippe Desrosiers was strong in the opening period of his second start of the season, turning away all seven shots, including a stellar glove save off a giveaway to rookie Morgan Frost.
The energetic first period was spotlighted by a heavy collision involving Kurtis Gabriel, who delivered a high shoulder check onto Paul Thompson. The T-Birds earned a power play from the vicious hit, and Tommy Cross immediately jumped to Thompson's aid in a scrap with Gabriel.
The fireworks would not conclude there, as Brady Keeper and Andy Andreoff squared off to pick up matching fighting majors. Lehigh Valley earned a power play out of the scrum, but like Springfield, the Phantoms' power play could not connect in the opening period.
The offensive exploits finally got going in the middle period, and Springfield got the first goal of the night to snap a lengthy goal drought when Cross laced a slap shot past Berube at 5:20 from Ethan Prow and Thompson.
After the T-Birds killed a third Lehigh Valley power play, the Phantoms tied the score shortly after when German Rubtsov scooped a bouncing rebound over the stick of Desrosiers at 14:26.
The 1-1 tie would not last even one minute, as the Thunderbirds got right back on the offensive on the next shift as Daniel Audette parked himself in the blue paint and deflected a centering feed from Riley Stillman off his foot into the yawning net to make it 2-1 just 54 seconds after the Rubtsov equalizer.
Out of a media timeout, the Thunderbirds kept their foot on the throttle as Blaine Byron sprung Anthony Greco on a breakaway connection, and with only the goalie to beat, Greco chipped it over Berube's stick side to bring the lead to 3-1 at 15:56.
After Springfield killed an early Phantoms power play in the third, the Phantoms continued generating pressure at even strength, and eventually it paid off when Nic Aube-Kubel squeaked a right-circle shot through Desrosiers at 8:03. Less than five minutes later, Morgan Frost scooped up his first AHL goal on a net-mouth scramble to tie the score and eventually force an extra period.
The Springfield penalty kill went 6-for-6, with no effort more vital than a 4-on-3 penalty kill in overtime following a bench minor for too many men on the ice. Desrosiers and the T-Bird escaped that danger and the game needed a seven-round shootout to decide a winner.
After Frost and Audette scored on back-to-back attempts, Desrosiers and Berube traded saves all the way into the seventh round. In the longest shootout in T-Birds history, Kevin Roy finally sent the visitors home happy as he slid a forehand shot through the five-hole to give Springfield its first shootout win since January of 2018.
Desrosiers finished his night with 38 saves on top of his shootout heroics to pick up his first win as a Thunderbirds goaltender, while Berube stopped 22 of 25 to fall to 0-1-2 as a Phantom.
From here, the Thunderbirds embark on another three-game weekend on Oct. 25-27 with a visit to Bridgeport on Friday (7:00 p.m.) before home tilts with Belleville on Saturday (7:05 p.m.) and Rochester on Sunday (5:05 p.m.).
For more ticket information or to become a 2019-20 Springfield Thunderbirds ticket package member, or to purchase single game tickets, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.
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